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This Shabbat we read Parshat Mishpatim, which outlines many of the laws related to how we treat each other, including those related to lending money. If you’re not familiar with the parsha or if you want a way to explain it to your children, this Bim Bam video is a short and sweet introduction that’s good for all ages (even grownups!).
It’s been an annual tradition of ours for more than a decade to shine some light on the work of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Vancouver (HFLA) at this time of year. They provide interest-free loans to members of the community to help people overcome financial challenges and build better lives.
HFLA is unique in that it offers loans rather than grants, meaning that all of the money is eventually returned and then loaned again. This has enabled HFLA to leverage just over 1 million donor dollars into more than 5 million dollars in loans over the years. They have 17 different loan programs, and last year loaned over $409,000, with only one loan that went into default. Pretty impressive work.
The partnerships we have across the community take many forms. From supporting an organization’s work through the Federation Annual Campaign, to awarding an organization a grant through the Jewish Community Foundation, to collaborating on community planning initiatives, to working together with individuals and grassroots groups to help Jewish life flourish in regional communities, we are creating new and more ways to work together.
Let’s start with the Jewish Agency for Israel and their Shinshinim program, which brings young Israeli adults to diaspora communities for a year of volunteer service. The shinshinim volunteer with organizations throughout our community, bringing an Israeli vibe everywhere they go that kids can relate to. Last Friday we mentioned that we’re looking for host families, which promises to be a wonderfully enriching experience for your whole family. But don’t just take it from us, hear what other host families have had to say. Then contact Nathan Brown, our Israel Programs Follow-Up Coordinator, at 604.257.5100 if you want to learn more. This #FlashbackFriday photo of Pam Wolfman, who serves on our board, on our Israel and Overseas Affairs Committee, and as the chair of our Yom Ha'atzmaut Committee, is a testament to the wonderful life-long relationships you will build.
Speaking of Israel, we want to give some much-deserved kavod to Tirael Cohen, the CEO and founder of Kedma, a program we support in our partnership region of the Upper Galilee Panhandle. Tirael was recently chosen to be on Forbes Israel's illustrious "30 Under 30" list for 2020!
Kedma Student Villages, the program Tirael founded, brings young new energy to the rural areas on the borders of Israel. Participants live in the student village for a maximum of two years and volunteer in the local community for three hundred hours per year. The students' volunteer work focuses on areas such as social welfare, education, agriculture, and caring for the elderly. The students receive a full scholarship to a recognized academic institution in addition to affordable lodgings, and in turn help drive the area’s economic and demographic growth. Find out more about the programs we support in Israel here.
Here at home, one of the places our Connect Me In initiative is going strong is on the North Shore. Help us spread the word to young families you know who live there. We have a great North Shore Space Jungle Purim Party coming up on March 8th that is perfect for families with children. For really little ones, Connect Me In has established a solid following for their monthly Toddler Circle Time at Teahaus Treehouse, and they’ll be celebrating Purim with songs and story time at their March 1st get together.
No matter where you live, one of the things we all have in common is that we value being able to have our say. Our partner, the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, wants you to have that opportunity today. Their board is embarking on a process to reflect intentionally on its 50-year history and renew its vision for the future. As part of the planning process, they invite you to provide your perspective through the following brief survey. It’s a great opportunity to provide input on the future of an organization charged with preserving our past.
With Purim just around the corner, Passover can’t be far behind. It also means that we are in the final days of the campaign. If time has been flying by for you, too, it’s OK. There is still time to make a gift that will create a ripple effect across our community. Just click here.
Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. Help us plan ahead to meet the needs of our ageing population by filling out this short survey. We need everyone’s input, not just that of older community members.